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Heat can kill vehicle batteries the same way cold temperatures can, AAA reminds motorists

Broken down car
Posted at 10:44 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 06:23:42-04

CLEVELAND — It's hot in Ohio. Very hot. And with the spike in temperatures, AAA is reminding motorists that the summer heat has just as much potential to kill their vehicle's battery as the winter cold does.

"Unfortunately, what happens when you have hot, hot heat that we've been experiencing for the last couple of days as it breaks down the internal components of a battery," said Jim Garrity, AAA public and legislative affairs manager.

When temperatures climb above 90 degrees for consecutive days, like we've seen here in Northeast Ohio this week, the rate of fluid loss in batteries is accelerated and battery components see oxidation. In older batteries, that can cause them to fail.

AAA said that it expects to rescue more than 460,000 Americans on the roadside this weekend due to breakdowns, with dead batteries the main culprit, as people hit the road for Fourth of July plans.

"A lot of people over the last 12 months, they maybe haven't been driving as much. They haven't been using their vehicles as much, which means they've been letting the cars sit idle and the batteries are kind of leeching power slowly," Garrity said. "We're concerned that a lot of folks are going to get in their car and think that they can just turn the key and head off on that road trip."

To ensure battery health, AAA issued the following recommendations:

  • Consider having your battery and charging systems tested. Having a battery tested can expose any weaknesses that may break down under extreme circumstances. AAA offers its members on-site battery testing and, if need be, replacements.
  • Make sure the battery cables are clean and tight. Dirty, loose connections to battery terminals limit the flow of current and are a common cause of issues. Consider cleaning corrosion off of a battery terminal by using a small wire brush and cleaning it with a mix of one tablespoon of baking soda and a cup of water.
  • Make sure to drive. For vehicle owners who don’t drive often or far, a vehicle should be taken out for a long drive once every week or two. Shorter drives can drain a battery over time, given that it doesn’t have time to recharge properly.

Motorists should have their vehicle inspected in the summertime, especially before long road trips, to prevent breakdowns and ensure battery health.

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